Fitbit
By Lisa Eadicicco
August 29, 2016

Fitbit is updating its Flex tracker for the first time since the band launched in 2013, the company announced on Monday. The Fitbit Flex 2 will have a new swim-proof design that’s slimmer and can be more easily customized than its predecessor.

Like the current Flex, the new model will cost $99.95 when it launches in October, with preorders starting on Monday. The Flex 2 is 30 percent smaller than the original Flex, and the tracker can be removed and placed in different types of wearable accessories. In addition to selling standard bands in multiple colors, Fitbit is launching a premium accessory line for the Flex 2 that includes stainless steel and gold-plated bangles and pendants. These gold-plated accessories will set you back another $99.95, while the stainless steel bangle and pendant will cost $89.95 and $79.95 respectively.

The Flex 2 is the first Fitbit band you can actually swim with, and it’s capable of automatically logging laps, duration, and calories burned during swims. It’s water-resistant up to 50 meters, which means it’s durable enough to be used in the shower, a pool, or the ocean. Although the Flex 2 is the first Fitbit wristband designed to be used while swimming, many others companies have released fitness wearable that can be worn in the pool. TomTom’s $199.99 Spark Cardio + Music, Runtastic’s $79.99 Orbit, and Garmin’s $249.99 Vivoactive HR are three such examples.

The new Flex is also gaining the ability to track certain workouts without having to manually put the band in exercise mode, such as walking, running, elliptical sessions, and aerobic workouts in addition to swims. Fitbit calls this feature SmartTrack, and it’s also available on many of its newer devices including the Charge 2, Charge HR, Alta, and Blaze.

Like its predecessor, the Flex 2 lets you keep tabs on your progress by viewing a series of LED lights on your wrist. The company has slightly tweaked the way this works in the new model by making the lights color coded. The Flex 2 is also capable of notifying you when your phone is receiving incoming calls and texts, but since it can’t display text you can’t check these messages on your wrist.

Fitbit is updating its most basic fitness wristband at a time when many competitors, like Samsung and Apple, are focusing on blending the features of a fitness band and a smartwatch into one device. Fitbit has been following this trend with its other recent products, like the Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Alta, both of which show texts, calendar alerts, and phone call notifications to your wrist in addition to gathering health data.

Still, updating the Flex is important for Fitbit if it wants to offer options in every category. Jawbone and Misfit specialize in selling affordable, well-rounded trackers that monitor all the basics but don’t offer a screen. The new Flex 2 gives Fitbit an option that directly competes with these types of wristbands, and the update is much needed since the original Flex seems dated and chunky compared to newer offerings from these companies.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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